Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Schwarzenegger hopes to get two NFL teams for L.A.
GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't want one NFL team in Los Angeles. He wants two.
Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, left, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa play guard to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's center.
The California governor will probably have to be satisfied with half of his wish -- at least in the near future.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and a committee of 11 owners heard presentations Tuesday from officials representing Los Angeles, Anaheim and Pasadena, three cities that want a club. The area has been without an NFL franchise for more than a decade.
Schwarzenegger went first. After meeting with the owners, the actor-turned-politician emerged to say he was there to make sure "we're getting not only one NFL team to the Los Angeles area, Southern California, but to actually get two teams. That's why I came. Why limit it?"
New York Giants chairman Steve Tisch, a longtime Los Angeles resident who is on the committee, said that was highly unlikely.
"I'd be shocked if the suggestion internally to recommend two teams ever comes up. I think the numbers are too big. I think it would be an overwhelming suggestion," Tisch said.
Added Tagliabue: "One team is our immediate goal. Long-term, I think two is a realistic goal."
The 11 owners spent six hours listening to California politicians and deemed it a significant step in getting the NFL back to nation's second-largest television market. Tagliabue has made that a priority since both the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season.
"The fact that we're here and doing what we're doing is better than anything I could say," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "This is the strongest effort I've seen on the league's part."
Los Angeles plans to construct a stadium within the shell of the existing Los Angeles Coliseum. Anaheim is offering a 53-acre tract of land for the stadium and economic development. Pasadena, considered a long shot, provided an update on the Rose Bowl.
"Everybody came away feeling it was some of the best time they've spent on NFL business in recent months," Tagliabue said. "For our owners to get this type of firsthand dialogue and a firsthand opportunity to speak to the political leadership of these communities and the governor gives us a lot [of information] to digest."
The owners' committee, which includes Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots, didn't have an opportunity after the presentations Tuesday to talk alone as a group. They planned a conference call next week.
The committee will meet again at the NFL spring meetings in Denver May 22 and make a presentation to the rest of the owners the following day. It is unclear whether they will be able to make a recommendation at that point.
"I think there's a possibility. I don't know if there's a real possibility," Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said.
"I'm not going to rush," said Tagliabue, who has announced he will retire this summer. "I've also emphasized that this is the year for us to make some decisions up or down. We're not going to keep moving sideways."
The estimates for $800 million for the stadium projects, which the NFL is expected to finance, are considerably higher than previous price tags.
When the NFL expanded in 2002, the new team went to Houston after Los Angeles leaders couldn't agree on a suitable site for the team.
Los Angeles officials showed conceptual artist renderings of the plans for the Coliseum, host of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and home to the Rams from 1946-70 and the Raiders from 1982-94.
The 67,000-seat reconstruction includes 15,000 club seats, 500 luxury boxes and state-of-the-art amenities. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the City Council has already agreed to allow for up to $25 million in local tax revenues generated by a stadium renovation to be earmarked for redevelopment projects around the Coliseum.
"It's a deal they can't refuse," Villaraigosa said. "Los Angeles makes the absolute best sense."
Anaheim's plan calls for a new facility near Angel Stadium, which was converted to a baseball-only complex. The Rams and the Los Angeles Angels once shared that stadium.
Beside a new stadium, Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle said his city's proposed site includes room for more than 750,000 square feet of commercial and office development, a 500-unit hotel and residential areas. Plus, the land in Orange County would be owned by the new NFL franchise.